A total of 10 suspected members of a criminal gang conspiring to possess a firearm have been arrested after warrants were carried out in London, Essex and Kent this morning.

In the early hours of Wednesday, 3 March, over 350 officers from the Metropolitan Police Service, Essex Police and Kent Police executed 11 firearms warrants as part of a joint operation to arrest a number of suspects involved in ‘renting’ a firearm to be used in a revenge gang attacks.

Four firearms recovery dogs also supported the operation.

Detective Superintendent Paul Trevers, who led the operation for the Met, said: “Following a number of violent incidents in east London, officers from the East Area Gangs Unit have meticulously pulled this operation together, which has taken months of hard work and dedication.

“This operation – Operation Wordwell – started in September 2020 following a number of shootings and stabbings in Barking, East London. By linking the offences, officers realised that one criminal gang were planning violent attacks on other individuals and by making these pre-planned arrests today, we have been able to thwart a criminal gang involved in the use of lethal firearms.”

Under Operation Wordwell, officers used proactive and reactive policing tactics to secure evidence of the gang agreeing to split the cost of obtaining a firearm, and were looking for potential victims.

A total of 10 people, aged between 16 and 20 years old have been arrested for offences including conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to commit GBH with intent. They have all been taken into custody at an east London police station.

Searches of the venues continue for any firearms.

Specialist firearms officers from the Metropolitan Police, as well as Essex and Kent Police were used to carry out the warrants safely. They were supported by officers from the Met’s Taskforce, Specialist Crime syndicates and East Area BCU.

Members of the local Independent Advisory Groups (IAGs) were also present at a specialist operations room to view the warrants taking place and to see what officers are doing to tackle violent crime in their neighbourhoods.

Det Supt Trevers adds: “Communities rightfully hold their local police to account. They understandably want to know, understand and see what we are doing to tackle shootings, stabbings and other types of crime in the areas that they live and work. By inviting community representatives to see the operation unfold, it allowed me to show our professional commitment to supress violence, whilst assuring communities of our accountability and transparency in what we do.

“This is another in the line of ongoing operations targeting violent offenders and I hope it goes some way in reassuring everyone that East Area BCU, with the support of MPS specialist officers as well as colleagues from other forces, continue to work tirelessly to stop the supply of guns, and associated criminality across London and into county forces.”

Chief Inspector Darren Deex, Operational Policing Command, Essex Police, said: “In working with the Metropolitan Police today, not only have we supported colleagues to make an arrest, we have helped make Essex that little bit safer.

“Our residents know that we will always take action to remove firearms and weapons off our streets and bring those who carry or use them to justice, and we take pride in knowing the community supports us in that aim. There is no place for such violence in our county.”

The warrants were carried out at properties at:

Middleton Grove, BarkingSutton Road, BarkingUpney Lane, BarkingWheelers Cross, BarkingWivenhoe Road, BarkingKing Edwards Road, BarkingDovehouse Mead, BarkingThe Shaftsburys, BarkingBastable Avenue, BarkingWilliam Groom Ave, Dovercourt, Harwich, EssexRhodaus Town, Canterbury, Kent

Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Tweet @MetCC. To remain 100% anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

+ Any young people who have information about violence, firearms or knife crime, can visit Fearless where they can pass on information anonymously – your I.P address will not be traced. Fearless is part of the Crimestoppers charity, and is also independent of the police.

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